Army veteran Garrett Goodwin saw a homeless man wearing an Army uniform on the side of a busy Tampa, Florida highway and became enraged. Goodwin claims he stopped because he wanted to “help” the man, but instead ended up screaming at him and chasing him into traffic.
Goodwin approached the man and asked him if he could see his military ID, the man told him that he lost it. Goodwin then asked him what unit he served in and when the mn couldn’t give him a straight answer he grew angry. He claims that the man had a ROTC patch on his uniform, that only high school kids have, and that’s when he went nuts.
In the video you see Goodwin shouting, “Show me your veteran ID card.” To which the man replies that he doesn’t have one and Goodwin screams,”take off my uniform.” The homeless man apologizes over and over, even calling Goodwin “sir” while trying to flee the angry veteran by running into traffic.
Goodwin says that this is a case of “Stolen Valor” and that is why he was so angry. He thinks that because the man was wearing the uniform and panhandling that he is breaking the law, but he is incorrect. First of all, Goodwin admitted to WTSP News that he was not 100% sure that the man wasn’t a veteran. Second, even if he wasn’t, the Stolen Valor Act does not make this kind of thing illegal.
The Act states that it is illegal for someone to fraudulently claim that they are a recipient of a military decoration in order to obtain money, property, or another tangible benefit. A military decoration is a Purple Heart, Medal of Honor, Silver Star, etc. This man did not claim to be the recipient of any of those things, he just claimed that he served.
What Goodwin did was make assumptions about an indigent man on the side of the road and harassed him like a schoolyard bully. He could have just given the guy a dollar, or not, and gone about his day. Instead, he wanted to show everyone what a tough guy he was and chased the man into traffic. Which by the way, he then yelled at him to “get out of traffic” while continuing to pursue him.
It is not his place to demand to see an ID; he isn’t a police officer. Does he plan on demanding to see the military ID’s of the thousands upon thousands of homeless veterans we have in this country? No, he just wanted to humiliate this guy, because he could. What a cowardly act. I’m sure he feels really good about himself.
It is also not against the law for a civilian to wear a military uniform. Donated military uniforms can be purchased all over the place. Goodwin did not have the right to demand that this poor man, who was half his size, take off his clothing. What the hell is that?
Some people may applaud his actions, but I think he deserves no such thing. He picked on a man who is living on the streets, and just trying to get money to feed himself, because he could. That isn’t heroic; it’s disgusting.
Watch the video below and tell us what you think: